A solution to every problem
Automation expert Elenco is broadly deployable
The relocation to a new building in Genk two years ago, more or less coincided with the growth spurt the company was going through with respect to camera inspections. And that is just a fraction of the many markets served by this atypical installer. It is precisely this diversity of projects that makes Elenco prefer steady partner itsme Breemes as a supplier of electrotechnical components.
No project is the same and this provides a new impetus to bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion each time, Thomas Richard summarises the challenges in his work for Elenco. Together with his father and co-director Johan Richard he started in 2011 as an industrial automation company. They employ their expertise to bring machines to life, with Thomas dealing with the software section and Johan focusing on electrical engineering. And they are very versatile, because the company also has the expertise to develop the mechanics of a machine. In addition, they can be deployed to unite various parties in order to bring large automation projects to a satisfactory conclusion. They do all of this together with a team of eight employees.
Support with brand selection
Just recently, they took care of the electrification of a cooling tower, a large project at a global stainless steel producer where a new production line was installed. During the production process a lot of heat is being released; part of this heat can’t be reused and is being transported to a cooling tower. As a result, it requires a solid external cooling tower. Elenco provided its entire electrical section, from building the power boards, controlling the pumps and ventilators to designing a PLC that drives the necessary valves and frequency converters. And, of course, this also had to be provided with software.
Steven Claes joined Elenco in his capacity as technical representative at itsme Breemes, steady partner of Elenco for the supply of electrotechnical materials. “Because Siemens is strong in automation, this brand was a must for our end customer. For cabinet building, we looked at various suppliers. Rittal was able to provide the best technical substance to the end customer’s wishes, because of the use of rail copper in their cabinets and because they can supply large distribution boards”, says Steven. Both Rittal and Siemens were involved from the beginning in the talks to arrive at the right solution; itsme Breemes closed the circle so that the correct components, information and offers could be delivered to Elenco at the right time.
“itsme Breemes took a lot of work off our hands by selecting the right power boards”
Thomas explains that itsme Breemes took on the selection process, so that they themselves could focus on the automation. “Selecting the right power boards is not something we do on a daily basis, especially not with these sizes. You are soon talking about a row of cabinets of about 15 metres. itsme Breemes took a lot of work off of our hands by selecting the right power boards. In the preparation phase, together with Rittal and Siemens, they also helped to map everything, so that we could arrive at a correct quotation to our customer. On top of that, you build the electrical components into an integrated entity and that includes certain accessories. The right auxiliary contact for a certain type of work switch, for example. That requires quite a lot of research. Especially if you apply these materials for the first time. They really helped us with that.”
“With our automation solutions you increase your company’s efficiency”
Meanwhile, the cabinets are at the customer’s where Elenco is now working on the wiring. Depending on the other parties involved, the cooling tower will be commissioned after an extensive test phase. In the meantime, Elenco does not stand still. For example, the company has been focusing on camera inspection for several years now. With special techniques cameras are programmed, for instance to inspect the sizes of products or to check that the expiration date of a product is clearly legible. It is also possible to control a robot by means of feedback from a camera. It is proving to be a growth market, the more so because it promotes the quality of the end product, to which companies attach increasing importance. In terms of programming and PLCs, Elenco has all the expertise themselves. For technical support regarding products however, they are happy to make use of itsme Breemes. “If something is outdated for instance, then we advise which replacement parts best suit a certain configuration”, Steven confirms.
Less physical strain, more efficiency
This also applies to another specialist direction in which the company is moving: the market for the application of robotics. “We are working hard on a plug-and-play PalCobot. Such a collaborative robot lifts boxes from a conveyor belt and puts them on pallets. At the same time, people can work in the same area, without that a full fence has to be put around the cobot”, says Thomas. “In addition, these same PalCobots are movable, which brings about an enormous flexibility. In that way, it is possible to automate physically demanding tasks and deploy the staff that thus becomes available, elsewhere in the company. This increases your company’s efficiency”, he says, and that is ultimately one of the goals of automation.
Automate internally as well
As far as automation and efficiency are concerned, Elenco certainly does not pass over their internal processes. The first talks about linking their ERP system with itsme Breemes’ web platform have already taken place. Says Steven Claes: “We would like to realise an EDI link. One of the advantages of that is, that Elenco will later have all our up-to-date prices and the orders proceed fully automated. That works faster and is less error-prone.” Although still in its start-up phase, it is certainly an investment in the relationship between both companies, so that in the future Elenco can commit themselves to their core tasks even more.